The professional ability of the teacher is a crucial determinant of the quality of education in any society. According to Uche and Enukoha (2011), teachers need to be trained on the best approach to teaching and learning of concepts in a subject area; when a learner sees meaning and appreciates what is taught, he is most likely to develop more interest in the understanding of that concept which will further encourage him to better utilize and apply that knowledge for national development. The teacher as an educator and an expert is an important factor and crucial element of a successful learning process. As a result of this, there is a need for a sound pedagogical foundation in the major areas of teacher training, particularly in the understanding of how learners can positively benefit from learning outcomes since nobody can give what he does not have.
Dareng (2006) reaffirms that the education and training of the teacher must be accorded the serious national consideration and attention it deserves. It is therefore important to have an efficient and quality personnel training in the education sector that can guarantee quality learning outcome and national development. According to Oyetunde (2006), Teacher education has contributed positively to the national development by producing quality teachers who in turn contribute significantly in the production of quantitative and qualitative manpower for all the sectors of the economy. Muodumogu (2008) points out that, it is a national suicide for any nation to allow its poorest brains teach its youths, while the best brains cure the sick, design and build roads and bridges or formulate and administer the laws. No doubt, teacher training and preparation remains a very serious national issue in Nigeria education. However, teacher training is confronted with series of challenges ranging from poor funding, changing trends in teachers’ image, poor entrance to teaching profession among others as observed by Muodumogu (2006). It is in view of the foregoing that the writer decided to examine the prospects and challenges of teacher education in Nigeria.
Concept of Teaching
Teaching is the art of transmitting ideas, information, knowledge and skills from one person to another or from one generation to another. According to Denga (2005), teaching is regarded as the guidance of learning activities. Denga maintains that teaching is a service profession; it is more than telling and testing; it is a complex art of guiding the learners through a variety of selected experiences to bring worthwhile changes in behavior. To Enyi (2005), teaching is supposed to result in the acquisition and utilization of knowledge. From the foregoing, teaching is an art and a science. It is an art because it involves the processing of a body of specialized knowledge. It is common to assume that teaching is what anybody can do if he knows his subject. But this is not true because before one can teach effectively, he must be schooled or trained in the art and science of teaching.
Teaching is a unique, dynamic and a noble profession. Aristotle affirms this in Uche and Enukoha (2011) saying those who educate children well are more to be hounoured than they who produce them, for they only gave them life but those gave the art of living well. The foregoing suggests that teaching is an overwhelming responsibility and a ‘tasking word’. If teaching is this sensitive and demanding, it should be for professionals who show commitment to what they do for a living and not for those who teach because there is nothing else to do. In order words, it is not everybody who can teach. Those who teach must possess qualities of effective teaching.
Legal Requirements for the Teaching Profession in Nigeria
According to Federal Government of Nigeria (2014), to be legally recognized as a teacher in Nigeria, an individual must register with Teachers’ Registration Council (TRC). The TRC Act Section 6(1) further states that to be a registered member, an individual must:
(a) pass a qualifying examination accepted by the council and complete the practical teaching by the council under the Act or
(b) Not being a Nigerian, hold qualification granted outside Nigeria which for time being is recognized by the council and is by law entitled to practice the profession in the country in which the qualification was granted, provided that the other country accords Nigerian professional teachers the same reciprocal treatment and he satisfies the council that he has had sufficient practical experience as a teacher.
(c) Be of good character
(d) Not have been convicted in Nigreia or elsewhere of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty.
Who is a Teacher?
In generic sense, a teacher is someone whose job is to teach, educate or instruct. According to Enyi (2005), a teacher is someone who guides learning by motivating the learner or by arousing his desire to learn. Enyi maintains that the teacher is to see that the child develops the right skills, assimilates the facts, right habits, ideas as well as ethical standards. This suggests that the teacher is the hub of the educational system because the school cannot be better than its teachers; hence, no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers.
Categorization of Teachers in Nigeria
Federal Government of Nigeria (2014) records that, following the provisions of the TRC Act, teachers are categorized into four classes namely:
A – class :Holders of Ph.D in Education or Ph. D in other fields plus education, example Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE).
B – class: Holders of Masters degree in Education or masters in other fields plus Education, Example PGDE, NCE.
C – class: Holders of Bacherlors degree in Education or Bacherlors degree in other fields plus education, example PGDE, NCE.
D – class: Holders of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) or its equivalent.
Note: Holders of TCII and its equivalent were given provisional registration, which expired at the end of 2006 (FGN, 2014).
Teacher Education in Nigeria
According to Denga (2005), teacher education is the training of teachers in a formal school system. This training is undertaken in teachers’ training colleges, Colleges of Education, and Universities. At the end of the training period which may range from three to five years, certificates are awarded to the graduates to qualify them to practice as professional teachers. The Federal Government National Policy on Education (2014) identifies the goals of teacher education to include: the provision of teachers with the intellectual and professional background adequate for their assignment and making them adaptable to changing situations which also enhance teachers’ commitment to the teaching profession. It also states that all teachers in educational institutions shall be professionally trained through teacher education programmes, structured to equip and prepare them for effective performance of their duties. Consequently, student-teachers undergo teaching practice at various levels of their training and carry out researches on existing educational problems. Possible solutions are provided through these researches which when implemented contribute to quality and improved teaching and learning in our schools. Quality education according to Okereke (2006), provides learners with ample opportunities and experiences for the acquisition of skills and understanding to be able to cope with the society and life in general as well as instilling in the learners the ability to perform duties or tasks stipulated in their credentials. For effective teaching and learning, quality teachers must be engaged to handle and implement educational programmes. Therefore, the importance of quality teachers in our schools cannot be overemphasized because it is the most important school related factor influencing students’ achievements. Okereke maintains that for the teacher to be able to impact knowledge, skills, information, attitude and beliefs to a learner, there must have been process of training of an approval course in an appropriate teacher preparation institution where special knowledge and skills are revealed in various foundation subjects like psychology, philosophy, history of education, education technology and teaching subjects.
Brief History of Teacher Education in Nigeria
According to Uche and Enukoha (20012), until the coming of teacher training, centers in the 19th century, most teachers received instruction in the home of Rev. Fathers and Rev. Pastors in charge of the various Christian denominations. In 1896, St. Andrews College, Oyo was established in its present site. In 1921, Government founded the Katsina Training College for a five year training programme. This College tried to meet the local needs of the country in terms of teacher education. In 1922 Phelps – Stokes Commission Report made some concrete recommendations which helped in the professional preparation of teachers. In 1926, the education code recognized the need for the third class certificate examination. Uche and Enukoha maintain that, by the time of Nigerian Independence in 1960, a few universities had been established. They offered Bacherlor of Arts degree in Education (B.A Ed), Bacherlor of Sciences degree in Education (B.Sc Ed.) and Bacherlor of Education (B.Ed.) programmes for teacher Education.
The Aims and Objectives of Teacher Education in Nigeria
Federal Government of Nigeria (2014:46) records that the goals of teacher education shall be to:
(i) Produce highly motivated, conscientious and efficient classroom teachers for all levels of our educational system.
(ii) Encourage further the spirit of enquiry and creativity in teachers
(iii) Help teachers to fit into the social life of the community and the society at large, and enhance their commitment to national goals.
(iv) Provide teachers with the intellectual and professional background adequate for their assignment and make them adaptable to changing situation
(v) Enhance teachers commitment to the teaching profession and
(vi) To produce knowledgeable and effective teachers who can inspire persons to learn.
Teacher Training Institutes in Nigeria
Dareng (2006:16) records that all teachers in educational institutions from pre-primary to university shall be professionally trained. Teacher education programmes shall be structured to equip teachers for the effective performance of their duties. The following institutions among others shall give the required professional training provided they continuously meet the required minimum standards:
(a) Colleges of Education
(b) Faculties of Education in the Universities.
(c) Institutes of Education.
(d) National Teachers Institute (NIT)
(e) Schools of Education in Polytechnics
(f) National Institution for Nigerian Languages (NINLAN)
(g) National Mathematical Centre (NMC).
Prospects of Teacher Education in Nigeria
According to Muodomogu (2006), teacher education has produced professionally trained teachers in reasonable numbers who have contributed and are still contributing in the production of human capital or manpower for Health, Economy, Agriculture, Technology, Administration and Education. Muodumogu maintains that these graduates are contributing immensely to the development of their immediate communities and the general society. In fact, all the products of education are facilitated by teachers and these graduates are contributing in one way or the other in nation building implying that the achievements of teacher education are enormous and indelible (Ankange, 2006).
Challenges of Teacher Education in Nigeria
Denga (2005) identifies the following as some of the challenges of teacher education in Nigeria:
Adequate funding is very important to quality teacher education. The welfare of any country is influenced by the quality and quantity of its teachers. But poor funding is making it difficult for the production of effective and efficient teachers. The attraction and retention of best brains in teacher training institutions for the production of teachers require proper funding but where this is lacking, it becomes difficult. Poor funding has negatively affected salaries of staff in teacher training institutions; this is a negative trend which discourages staff from putting in their best leading to production of half-baked teachers. No government has allocated up to 15% of annual budget to education. Obasanjo tried up to 12% while UNESCO recommends 26%. This ugly situation has affected teacher education negatively.
Changing Trends in Teachers’ Image
Before and shortly after independence, teaching profession in Nigeria was well respected. At training level, teachers and students of education attended their duties with religious devotion and there was self-discipline. Teaching then was an anxiety-free career because there was job satisfaction boldly written on teachers’ faces at all levels. Teachers were ranked among the top in the society and it was very attractive to go to training as a teacher because student-teachers were enjoying different scholarships. However, things changed in the 1970s when government took over schools from voluntary agencies. Teachers were then regarded as those who could not make it to prestigious profession. There was little or no more incentives and professional development of teachers. Even those who are forced to select education consider it a stepping stone to something else because their minds are not set to be teachers and therefore cannot do well. This situation is not good for any meaningful national development because with poor teacher education and motivation, implementation of any policy for manpower development, technological and scientific advancement will appear illusive.
Poor Entrance Requirements to Teaching Profession
For Nigeria to meet the demand of quality teacher education, the lecturers in our Colleges of Education and Universities must become competent, trained and qualified teachers before they can be employed. Quality education produces quality teachers who are able to move the nation forward. If education of teachers still falls largely on those that find themselves in Education Departments by mistake, then they will keep on ascribing low status to teachers. If candidates that have the zeal to teach are admitted and are educated well, they will come out as quality teachers. But if unqualified and unserious candidates are admitted and are not well educated, they will come out as incompetent and unqualified teachers (Nwachukwu, 2007).
Shortage of Basic Infrastructural and Instructional Facilities
School facilities needed for effective and efficient training of teachers are grossly inadequate or completely lacking in most of the teacher training institutions in Nigeria. These facilities may include computers for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Introductory Technology Workshops, Libraries, Laboratories, just to mention a few. (Nwagwu, 2007).
According to Abang (2006:23)Human resources are very critical to the training of teachers and where these resources are lacking, teacher training becomes a problem. These resources are lacking for teacher training in Nigeria.
Contracts for supply of facilities to teacher training schools in Nigeria are either not executed or poorly executed by greedy politicians who divert the funds to their private use thereby making teacher education so challenging (Edem, 2006).
According to Akpakwu (2008: 29) Political or individual pressure from personal interest and bias may pose a problem to teacher education. Example, appointment of management staff, posting of staff, and supply of materials among other things in teacher training schools have affected teacher education negatively and seriously.
To provide highly motivated, conscientious and efficient teachers for all levels of our educational system, there is need to enhance teachers’ commitment to the teaching profession. To achieve this, only willing individual should be admitted, trained and employed as teachers to avoid using the profession as a stepping ground to better employment.
The following recommendations are made:
- Research fund should be provided for the teacher education.
- Government at all levels should cooperate and fund teacher education in all its ramifications.
- There should be periodic upward review of teachers’ salaries and allowances.
- Government should make serious efforts to pay teachers salaries regularly and promptly, too.
- Enough personnel should be employed in teacher training Institutions to facilitate effective teacher education.
6. Minimum standards for admission, training and employment in teacher training institutions should be enforced.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Akpensongun solomon